By Sarah Pittman
As states begin to lift COVID-19 restrictions and venues make plans to reopen, one of the top priorities is making sure buildings have taken the proper steps to safely welcome back employees, artists and fans — and giving patrons the assurance that best practices are in place. Enter the GBAC Star Facility Accreditation Program from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, which assists venues with creating and maintaining a cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention program.
Executive Director Patricia Olinger said that before COVID-19, GBAC was already looking at launching an accreditation program in fall 2020. Then when the pandemic hit, the team decided to launch GBAC Star sooner rather than later by creating a 20-point virtual accreditation program that was introduced in May.
“My whole career has really been around supporting people. My specialty in biorisk management has been looking at that infection control process and advising people,” said Olinger, who has been involved with the development of biorisk management systems for 20 years and was the convener of the working group that developed the first international standard for a biorisk management system last year.
“It’s really humbling to be able to work with all of these amazing groups, amazing venues, to help them reopen and then look at what the future is, so that if and when that next pandemic comes that they’re prepared.”
Since the launch in May, more than 3,500 organizations in 80 countries have committed to achieving GBAC Star, from venues such as Hard Rock Stadium and Staples Center to facilities in other industries, including hotels, restaurants and airports.
“What we’re finding is that people want more instruction, education and learning opportunities,” Olinger said. “Everybody seems to be sitting at the table, whether it’s on the front line all the way up to the C-suite. And that’s one of the business lessons that I’m learning, is that you’ve really got to be able to get the message across to all levels of employees.”